The COVID-19 pandemic has stilled sports stadiums and arenas into silence, with players kept in lockdown. But the quarantine culture has seen a surge in online gaming, esports, and sports simulation for stay-at-home fans. Esports—a digital media format where virtual game-play is streamed as video content, just like football matches, with players raking in millions has seen a surge in pandemic. Not only that due to the time of social distancing, self-quarantine, and containment, watching other people playing online games from computers and TV screens has surged. The global pandemic has opened avenues to not just play games but also consume them as a mode of entertainment.
In conversation with AnimationXpress, esports platform Indian Gaming League (IGL) founder and director Yash Pariani, shared that, “there has been a huge surge in the number of players as well as the viewers. We have experienced approximately between 300 to 400per cent rise in the number of players every month. Along with such a high rise in the number of participants, the total watch- time of the live streaming of our games on our YouTube channel has grown over 1000 per cent in the last quarter.”
A lot of people have made gaming as a way of social interaction during the period of isolation. During this period he has noticed that the mindset of the people regarding esports has started changing be it consumption, participation or understanding the concept of esports. “A lot of adult population has engaged in esports unlike a few years ago when video games were supposed to be just leisure for teenagers,” he added.
Additionally, in the past three months, the graph for the number of users has skyrocketed. He believes that the number of users is expected to grow even more post-pandemic. Although their chances of a dip in the number of hours an average person is engaged in esports once the lockdown is over, the overall number of users is expected to grow.
Currently, IGL is hosting over 10 tournaments every day for quite a few games, including at least 2 PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile and Ludo King tournament every day. The remaining games like Smashing 4, 8 Ball pool, Fortnite, and others are each hosted over multiple days in a week.
Apart from daily tournaments, they recently hosted an International Charity tournament for three games in collaboration with RoundTable International with a total prize pool of Rs. 90,000. All the entry fee collected from these tournaments was donated toward those who suffered due to COVID-19.
Since many are taking esports as a career option and the social isolation has jump-started the esports game in India, therefore, post-pandemic, he believes the number of users engaging in esports is expected to keep growing. “Especially with all the A-listers entering the esport scene, we can finally expect India’s Gaming scenario to almost be at par with developed countries like USA or China”. It will be interesting for fans and enthusiasts to witness esports and gaming landscape transforming into mainstream and to become at par with USA and China.